Sometimes we truly “can’t see the forest for the trees,” as the saying goes. If we are made in the image of God, why do so many people come to wrong conclusions and false beliefs? Why can’t we think straight?
2 Chronicles 5 & 6
Why We Can’t Think Straight
2 Chronicles 5 & 6:
The God of All Men
The temple has been completed and in chapter 6, Solomon prays and dedicates it to the Lord:
12 Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands 13 (for Solomon had made a bronze platform five cubits long, five cubits wide, and three cubits high, and had set it in the midst of the court; and he stood on it, knelt down on his knees before all the assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands toward heaven); 14 and he said: “Lord God of Israel, there is no God in heaven or on earth like You, who keep Your covenant and mercy with Your servants who walk before You with all their hearts.
18 … Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built! 19 Yet regard the prayer of Your servant and his supplication, O Lord my God, and listen to the cry and the prayer which Your servant is praying before You: 20 that Your eyes may be open toward this temple day and night, toward the place where You said You would put Your name, that You may hear the prayer which Your servant makes toward this place. 21 And may You hear the supplications of Your servant and of Your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven Your dwelling place, and when You hear, forgive.
He prays for the nation of Israel and then he prays for all who will come to the temple in faith:
32 “Moreover, concerning a foreigner, who is not of Your people Israel, but has come from a far country for the sake of Your great name and Your mighty hand and Your outstretched arm, when they come and pray in this temple; 33 then hear from heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, that all peoples of the earth may know Your name and fear You, as do Your people Israel …
Over and over we see God’s desire for “all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2.4) even here in the Old Testament.
He Alone Knows Our Hearts
Chapter 6.29-30, “whatever prayer, whatever supplication is made by anyone, or by all Your people Israel, when each one knows his own burden and his own grief, and spreads out his hands to this temple: then hear from heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive, and give to everyone according to all his ways, whose heart You know (for You alone know the hearts of the sons of men).”
“… for You alone know the hearts of the sons of men”—Jeremiah said it this way:
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?” (Jer. 17.9).
Ladies, we are especially prone to believing we know other people’s hearts. We sometimes think we know what they’re thinking, what they mean, or what motives are behind their actions. This is dangerous and can lead us to all kinds of false assumptions.
And … sadly, when we make assumptions, they’re usually not good ones. In spite of 1 Corinthians 13.7, we’re more inclined to believe the worst about others than to believe the best. Why is it we can’t or won’t think straight much of the time?
Why We Can’t Think Straight
The fall of man not only separated us from God and brought a curse on the physical world, but sin affected the way we think and reason. Theologians call it the noetic effect of sin. And when our sinful condition is coupled with sinful thoughts, words, and actions, the effect is doubly blinding. That’s why it’s so important to prayerfully consider Matthew 7.3-5 before we point the finger at anyone else.
It’s also the reason false doctrine and false assumptions can be so dangerous. The longer we believe a lie, no matter how illogical to others, the more since it makes to us. We need to constantly examine our thoughts in light of Scripture, keep ourselves accountable to others, and listen prayerfully when someone challenges our thinking. It doesn’t mean we flip-flop every time someone questions our beliefs, but neither should we dismiss criticism out of hand.
Today’s Other Readings:
79.13, “So we, Your people and sheep of Your pasture, will give You thanks forever; We will show forth Your praise to all generations.”
We should not only be thankful for His blessings and for His deliverance from trials, but also while we are in the trial we should be thankful for His future deliverance in this life, and more importantly, for our eternal deliverance from all sin and heartache.
Do Not Love Sleep
Verse 13, “Do not love sleep, lest you come to poverty; Open your eyes, and you will be satisfied with bread.”
This is true in spiritual things, as well as, natural. If we fail to get up and spend the time reading and studying God’s Word, praying, and investing in kingdom work, we will have little understanding and few eternal rewards.
Different Hearts and Different Doors
When Paul wanted to share the Gospel with Jews, he began with their history and sought to show them God’s eternal plan of salvation as revealed in the Old Testament. This is a great example for us to follow. Not that we should always go to the Old Testament, but that as we seek to share the Gospel with those we meet, we should pray and ask for God’s wisdom to understand the door into their lives.
Maybe it means sharing a particular part of our testimony. Maybe it means sharing a particular passage of Scripture that relates to them, or a particular story in the Bible. I often use the story of Joseph and the trials that he went through as God prepared him for His plan and purposes, to explain how God uses hardships for good.
When talking to “religious” people, I often start with John 3 and talk about the “religious” man named Nicodemus who, although he knew a lot about God and by religious standards was probably a “good” man, still needed a relationship with Jesus Christ.
God knows each heart, so prepare your heart and the soil of others’ hearts by praying for His wisdom and guidance. Pray, too, that he would show you when you’re in danger of being led away from the truth. Psalm 119.34-35 says:
34 Give me understanding and I will obey your instructions;
I will put them into practice with all my heart.
35 Make me walk along the path of your commands,
for that is where my happiness is found.
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